Shank Slams Rainiers To Victory

April 22, 2017

Tacoma won the final game in El Paso on Friday night, 11-8, getting an unlikely lift.

Zach Shank lined a pinch-hit grand slam in the top of the fourth inning to give Tacoma a 7-4 lead. The Rainiers led for the remainder of the game.

It was the first pinch-hit home run of any kind for the Rainiers since Luis Rodriguez lined one to right field at Cheney Stadium against Colorado Springs on July 15, 2012.

The last pinch-hit grand slam? Who knows. We hardly ever have pinch-hitters, due to the designated hitter!

The reason Shank was pinch-hitting was because Gordon Beckham left the game after getting hit by a pitch on the left forearm in his first at-bat. Beckham stayed in the game, batted one more time, and then came out. We’ll get an update on his status later today.

It was the first home run of the season for Shank, who hit three for Tacoma last year. His career high for homers in a season is ten, at the Class-A level. Shank does a lot of things to help the Rainiers win, but the pinch-hit grand slam was a huge surprise.

Tacoma won despite losing scheduled starting pitcher Chase De Jong to a call-up. Brett Ash was promoted from Arkansas, and he ended up earning the win in relief in his Triple-A debut. Ash allowed four runs in 3.2 innings, but Shank’s slam gave him a lead to work with.

Ash was a 12-game winner at Double-A Jackson last year. He was 1-1, 3.00 for Arkansas in two appearances this season.

With De Jong gone, the team has to decide if it wants to put Ryan Weber back into the rotation, or have Ash fill the spot.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma got a big lift when Zach Shank hit a go-ahead, pinch-hit grand slam in the fourth inning and went on to beat El Paso, 11-8. Boog Powell and Dario Pizzano each reached base four times in the win. The Rainiers split the four-game series.

Roster Moves: Yesterday starter Chase De Jong was called up by Seattle, and reliever Dan Altavilla was optioned to Tacoma (he’ll probably report today). Tacoma added pitcher Brett Ash from Double-A Arkansas, and pitcher Rafael Pineda from extended spring training. Catcher Steve Baron was placed on the 7-day disabled list, retroactive to Tuesday. Finally, rehabilitating Steve Cishek started for Tacoma last night, then returned to Arkansas after the game.

Today: Tacoma (9-6) at Albuquerque (7-9), 6:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Colorado Rockies.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 3-0.

Tacoma swept a three-game series from the Isotopes at Cheney Stadium last weekend.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Christian Bergman (2-0, 2.31) at RHP Matt Flemer (1-1, 5.06).

Hot Rainiers: Dan Vogelbach has hit safely in seven straight games, he has eight RBI over the last three games, and he has reached base via hit or walk in 14 straight games… Ben Gamel has reached in 13 straight games… Tyler Smith has a four-game hitting streak, and he’s hitting .375 (9-for-24) over his last seven games… D.J. Peterson has homered in three of the last five games.

Look Out For: Noel Cuevas has a seven-game hitting streak, and he’s 9-for-17 against left-handed pitchers… catcher Ryan Hanigan has an eight-game hitting streak… Albuquerque did not have outfielder Raimel Tapia in Tacoma last weekend; he’s never faced the Rainiers before but reportedly he can really hit.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Reports:


Rainiers Win Thriller In El Paso

April 21, 2017

The Rainiers won a thriller in ten innings at El Paso on Thursday night, 6-5, in a game the exhibited how much things can swing over the course of an evening.

For the first five innings it looked like Tacoma had no chance of winning.

El Paso jumped out to a 5-0 lead at the end of the third inning, hitting a pair of homers and knocking Tacoma’s starter out early.

Chihuahuas starting pitcher Dinelson Lamet broke the franchise record for strikeouts… in the fifth inning! He had 12 strikeouts by the end of the fifth, and was working on a one-hit shutout.

The Rainiers got on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth when Gordon Beckham launched a solo homer to left field, making it 5-1. But in reality things really started to swing Tacoma’s way much earlier.

In the third inning El Paso scored two runs and had runners at first and third with one out. It was 5-0, and they were about to blow the game wide open.

Tacoma brought in Ryan Weber from the bullpen, and he got Diego Goris to ground into an inning-ending double play.

That was the start of an incredible stretch for Weber. He retired the side on four pitches in the fourth inning: a ball, a ground out, a ground out, and another ground out. He went on to pitch 5.2 scoreless innings, getting 14 of the 17 outs on infield grounders.

Weber has now tossed 13.2 shutout innings this season. His long relief work keyed Tacoma’s comeback last night.

Shortly after Beckham’s homer in the top of the sixth, Lamet reached 95 pitches and was pulled from the game. He finished with 13 strikeouts in 5.1 innings, which should remain the El Paso record for a while. The Chihuahuas went to the bullpen and Tacoma kept striking out – the Rainiers whiffed 18 times in the game – but a comeback was made.

In the seventh inning Tuffy Gosewish hit a one-out double, and Zach Shank Walked. Beckham followed with a fly ball to shallow center, and El Paso outfielder Franchy Cordero initially went back on the ball – costing him the chance to make a catch. It dropped for a single, and the bases were loaded for Dan Vogelbach.

Vogelbach ripped Carlos Fisher‘s first pitch on a low line to right field. This laser beam was timed at 107 mph coming off the bat, and it banged into the brick structure above the right field fence for a game-tying grand slam.

The Rainiers threatened in both the eighth and ninth innings, but did not score. Jean Machi relieved Weber in the bottom of the ninth, pitched a scoreless inning, and we were going to extras for the first time this season.

Boog Powell opened the tenth by pulling a hard double down the right field line against El Paso reliever Michael Dimock, bringing up Gosewisch. Gosewisch fouled off two bunt attempts, falling behind in the count, and then lifted a fly ball that carried to deep right field. El Paso’s Rafael Ortega tried to catch it at the wall, but it dropped to the ground and Powell scored the go-ahead run on a close play at the plate.

Machi and Dean Kiekhefer took care of the bottom of the tenth inning, and the Rainiers had their first extra-innings victory of the season.

It was an incredible turnaround. The game felt like a loss and it turned into a win.

After tonight’s game the Rainiers get to enjoy a rare Pacific Coast League bus trip, a three-and-a-half hour midnight ride through the desert to Albuquerque. The most exciting sight we’ll see on the drive, in all likelihood, will be the bright lights of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

A four game series against the Albuquerque Isotopes starts on Saturday night.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers beat El Paso in ten innings, 6-5, in the team’s best win of the season. Tacoma needs a win today to get a split of the four-game series.

Today: Tacoma (8-6) at El Paso (7-8), 6:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 4-3.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Chase De Jong (2-0, 1.74) at RHP Bryan Rodriguez (1-0, 0.75).

Hot Rainiers: Dan Vogelbach has hit safely in six straight games, he’s homered in the last two, and he has reached base via hit or walk in 13 straight games… Ben Gamel has reached in 12 straight games… Gordon Beckham was a four-game hitting streak, during which he has hit three home runs.

Look Out For: Cory Spangenberg is on a tear. He has a seven-game hitting streak, going 13-for-28 during it, and is 6-for-13 during this series… Jamie Romak, Jose Pirela, and Diego Goris have five-game hitting streaks.

Ex-Rainiers and Locals: Former Rainiers reliever Logan Bawcom is now a Chihuahua. He signed with the Padres as a free agent during the offseason… ex-Rainiers outfielder Jabari Blash was optioned to El Paso on Saturday; let’s try to keep him in the ballpark… El Paso pitching coach Bronswell Patrick pitched for the Tacoma Tigers for two years, 1993-1994.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

  • The game story from the El Paso Times focuses on the impressive outing by Dinelson Lamet. There is another photo gallery with the story.
  • Limet appears on Baseball America’s weekly Prospect Hot Sheet, which includes a note on Mariners Double-A base stealing machine Ian Miller.
  • The Mariners lost in Oakland, 9-6, as James Paxton allowed runs for the first time this season. Three takeaways from the game.
  • The Mariners Notebook leads off with Mitch Haniger‘s impressive play.
  • A wonderful tribute to former Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus was posted on SI today. It’s written by Ken Levine, one of his former broadcast partners.

PCL Reports:


Big Inning Costs Rainiers

April 20, 2017

We had a season first on Wednesday night: the Rainiers opponent piled up hits and runs.

Tacoma entered the game with a league-best team earned run average, but El Paso struck for nine runs and 15 hits in a 9-4 victory. Tacoma has lost two straight games.

The team ERA went from below 2.50 up to 3.03. It is now second-best in the PCL – Colorado Springs, of all teams, leads the league with a 2.86 mark.

Wednesday’s game was actually really close and tense until the bottom of the eighth, when El Paso scored five runs to turn a 4-3 lead into a 9-3 lead.

The Rainiers offense hasn’t gotten hot yet. Tacoma has scored seven runs on 15 hits over the first two games of the series – numbers that would be fine in Tacoma, but aren’t going to win many games in the high-scoring environment of El Paso.

There were some positives on Wednesday: Dan Vogelbach belted his first homer of the season, Ben Gamel reached base four times, and Tuffy Gosewish returned from the stomach flu.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: One big inning doomed the Rainiers in a 9-4 loss at El Paso on Wednesday night. After seven-and-a-half innings of a tight, one-run baseball game El Paso scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth to lock it up.

Today: Tacoma (7-6) at El Paso (7-7), 5:35 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.

Season Series: Tied, 3-3.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Dillon Overton (0-0, 0.00) at RHP Dinelson Lamet (1-0, 0.00).

Overton moves into the starting rotation today – look for Ryan Weber to follow him from the bullpen. Lamet still hasn’t been traded to the Mets.

Hot Rainiers: Dan Vogelbach has reached base via hit or walk in 12 straight games, and he has hit safely in five straight… Ben Gamel has reached in 11 straight games; yesterday he was on base four times (three walks and a single).

Look Out For: Cory Spangenberg has a six-game hitting streak, going 10-for-23 during it… Jamie Romak, Jose Pirela, and Diego Goris have four-game hitting streaks.

Ex-Rainiers and Locals: Former Rainiers reliever Logan Bawcom is now a Chihuahua. He signed with the Padres as a free agent during the offseason… ex-Rainiers outfielder Jabari Blash was optioned to El Paso on Saturday; let’s try to keep him in the ballpark… El Paso pitching coach Bronswell Patrick pitched for the Tacoma Tigers for two years, 1993-1994.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Games:


Win Streak Ends In El Paso

April 19, 2017

Tacoma’s five-game winning streak came to an end in El Paso on Tuesday night, with a 4-3 loss to the Chihuahuas. It was the opener of an eight-game road trip for the Rainiers.

It was Tacoma’s first game of the season to be played in one of the PCL’s great hitter’s ballparks, and the Rainiers hit two homers – but didn’t hit much else. Gordon Beckham and D.J. Peterson went deep, but the team had only four additional hits.

The pitching was still quite good. The final total of runs allowed – four – was increased due to some defensive mistakes and a struggle to control the running game. Those are things that can get cleaned up.

The Rainiers will try to even the series tonight at 5:35.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma hurt itself with a couple of defensive mistakes, which became crucial in a one-run game. Jabari Blash‘s fly ball was lost in the lights for a leadoff triple in the fifth inning, starting a three-run rally for El Paso. The Chihuahuas won it, 4-3.

Roster Moves: Rehabilitating Mariners reliever Steve Cishek has joined the Rainiers, and he might pitch today. Cishek is recovering from offseason hip surgery.

Today: Tacoma (7-5) at El Paso (6-7), 5:35 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 3-2.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Chris Heston (1-0, 2.25) at RHP Tyrell Jenkins (1-1, 2.61).

Heston pitched a complete game shutout against El Paso in his last start – the second game of Thursday’s doubleheader at Cheney.

Hot Rainiers: Dan Vogelbach has reached base via hit or walk in 11 straight games, and Ben Gamel has reached in ten straight games… Gordon Beckham and D.J. Peterson have each homered in their last two games… reliever Nick Hagadone has retired all 11 batters he has faced, striking out ten of them.

Look Out For: Outfielder Jose Pirela got hot in Reno, going 6-for-11 with a homer in the three-game series. He did not play yesterday… infielder Cory Spangenberg has a five-game hitting streak, going 8-for-19 during it… Jamie Romak has homered in two straight games.

Ex-Rainiers and Locals: Former Rainiers reliever Logan Bawcom is now a Chihuahua. He signed with the Padres as a free agent during the offseason… ex-Rainiers outfielder Jabari Blash was optioned to El Paso on Saturday; let’s try to keep him in the ballpark… El Paso pitching coach Bronswell Patrick pitched for the Tacoma Tigers for two years, 1993-1994.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Reports:

  • Reno outfielder Oswaldo Arcia had his second straight two-homer game, driving in four runs, as the Aces won in Albuquerque 7-4. Some alarming stats from the Albuquerque Journal’s story: it was 50-Cent Hot Dog Night, and a crowd of 5,839 fans purchased 23,379 hot dogs for an average of 4.003 hot dogs per person.
  • Salt Lake’s Sherman Johnson drove in five runs in an 8-2 win at Sacramento.
  • Donovan Hand pitched Las Vegas to a 6-1 win at Fresno.
  • Colorado Springs hammered Memphis, 14-4, as Brewers top prospect Lewis Brinson went 4-for-6 with five RBI.
  • Vance Worley and two relievers combined on a four-hit shutout as New Orleans beat Iowa, 8-0.
  • Omaha lost in the eleventh inning at Round Rock, 5-4, when reliever Yender Caramo delivered a walk-off wild pitch.
  • Nashville scored five early runs and held on for a 5-3 win in Oklahoma City.

Rainiers Hit Road After Tremendous Homestand

April 18, 2017

Was that a terrific opening homestand, or what?

Tacoma made it five straight wins and a 6-1 record on the homestand with a 4-3 win over Albuquerque on Monday afternoon.

This win was a comeback victory, as the Rainiers found themselves trailing for only the second time on the seven-game home stretch. Albuquerque had a 3-1 lead going to the bottom of the sixth inning.

Dan Vogelbach opened the inning with a single, and then D.J. Peterson clubbed a two-run homer to left field to tie the game, 3-3. A couple pitches later it was Ben Gamel‘s turn, lining a go-ahead solo shot to right field.

The bullpen made the one-run lead stand up, and Tacoma had its fifth win in a row.

The Rainiers hit three home runs in the game, after launching a total of just four over the course of the first ten games. In fact, the Rainiers ranked last in the PCL in homers before Monday’s outburst.

And the pitching staff continued to be amazing. Albuquerque’s three runs were the most anyone scored against Tacoma on the homestand. The Rainiers allowed a grand total of eight runs during the seven games.

Now we hit the road, to hitter-friendly ballparks in El Paso and Albuquerque. It will be interesting to see how the high-elevation ballparks affects the team – the games certainly should be higher-scoring.

The early game in Tacoma on Monday allowed the team to fly to El Paso afterward, and we arrived at the hotel at about 1:45 AM local time. That’s not too late for baseball players – everyone should be well-rested for the start of the Chihuahuas series tonight.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers extended their winning streak to five, taking down Albuquerque, 4-3. Steve Baron, D.J. Peterson, and Ben Gamel homered to account for all of the Tacoma offense.

Roster Moves: Looks like we have a catching carousel in Tacoma. Steve Baron came out of yesterday’s game with a tight hamstring, and Tuffy Gosewish has missed two games with the flu. The hope is that Gosewish will be able to play today. For now, Baron isn’t going on the disabled list. The team has removed bullpen catcher Alexander Capriata from the active roster, and added catcher Ryan Scott from extended spring training.

Today: Tacoma (7-4) at El Paso (5-7), 5:35 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 3-1.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Sam Gaviglio (0-1, 1.29) at RHP Matt Magill (1-0, 0.75).

This is a rematch of the terrific pitcher’s duel we had in the first game of the doubleheader at Cheney on Thursday, which El Paso won 1-0.

Hot Rainiers: Dan Vogelbach has reached base via hit or walk in ten straight games, and Ben Gamel has reached in nine straight games… Gordon Beckham hit .333 (7-for-21) with two homers on the just-completed homestand… reliever Nick Hagadone has retired all 11 batters he has faced, striking out ten of them.

Look Out For: Outfielder Jose Pirela got hot in Reno, going 6-for-11 with a homer in the three-game series… infielder Cory Spangenberg has a four-game hitting streak, going 7-for-15 during it.

Ex-Rainiers and Locals: Former Rainiers reliever Logan Bawcom is now a Chihuahua. He signed with the Padres as a free agent during the offseason… ex-Rainiers outfielder Jabari Blash was optioned to El Paso on Saturday; let’s try to keep him in the ballpark… El Paso pitching coach Bronswell Patrick pitched for the Tacoma Tigers for two years, 1993-1994.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Reports:

  • Salt Lake nearly matched the Rainiers, finishing a three-game sweep of Fresno and going 5-2 on its homestand.
  • El Paso got drilled in Reno yesterday, 13-2, and had catcher Rocky Gale on the mound to record the final two outs. Zach Borenstein and Oswaldo Arcia each homered twice for Reno, and pitcher Braden Shipley went deep as well.
  • Dominic Smith launched a walk-off homer to give Las Vegas a 7-5 win over Sacramento – and a three-game sweep.
  • Omaha’s Peter O’Brien flattened the Baby Cakes with a go-ahead homer in the seventh inning.
  • Iowa’s Jeimer Candelario continues to hit, but his Cubs lost in the ninth inning to Round Rock, 10-9.
  • Memphis ended a four-game losing streak when Tommy Pham singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning against Oklahoma City.
  • Colorado Springs at Nashville was rained out and they’ll make it up on May 28.

Homestand Ends With Day Game

April 17, 2017

The Rainiers seven-game homestand concludes with an early start on Monday: an 11:35 AM game. Both teams are flying out of town after the game.

It’s been a terrific homestand for Tacoma, which is 5-1 going into today. The Rainiers pitching staff has been incredible, allowing a total of just five runs over the first six games.

Tacoma has won four straight games and taken sole possession of first place in the Pacific-North division.

The offense has been slow to warm up, but the team has been able to score enough runs to support the pitching staff. Look for Tacoma’s scoring to increase on the upcoming road trip to El Paso and Albuquerque, where the weather is warm and the elevation is high.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers won another low-scoring game, taking down Albuquerque 3-1 on Sunday afternoon. Chase De Jong escaped a few jams during five innings of work, allowing one run. The bullpen protected a slim lead the rest of the way. Steven Baron‘s two-out, two-run single in the second inning was the key hit for Tacoma.

Roster Move: Before yesterday’s game, starting pitcher Dylan Unsworth was transferred to Double-A Arkansas due to Tacoma having too many starting pitchers. Bullpen catcher Alexander Capriata was activated, because Tuffy Gosewisch is ill and the Rainiers didn’t want to have just one catcher.

Today: Albuquerque (6-5) at Tacoma (6-4), 11:35 AM.

Opponent Affiliation: Colorado Rockies.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 2-0.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Zach Jemiola (1-0, 7.94) at RHP Christian Bergman (1-0, 0.00).

Bergman is facing the team he played for during parts of the last two seasons.

Hot Rainiers: Dan Vogelbach has reached base via hit or walk in nine straight games, and Ben Gamel in reached in eight straight games… reliever Nick Hagadone has retired all 11 batters he has faced, striking out ten of them.

Look Out For: Outfielder Noel Cuevas is off to a fast start, having already notched three 3-hit games. Catcher Ryan Hanigan has a six-game hitting streak.

Ex-Rainiers and Locals: The Isotopes don’t have any ex-Rainiers, but they are carrying former Mariners outfielder Chris Denorfia.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 11:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Reports:


Rainiers Toss Another Shutout

April 16, 2017

The sun is shining – let’s play some daytime baseball!

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Three Tacoma pitchers combined to pitch a five-hit shutout in the Rainiers 2-0 win over Albuquerque on Saturday evening. Ryan Weber went the first five innings, Dillon Overton covered the next three, and Jean Machi finished it up.

Today: Albuquerque (6-4) at Tacoma (5-4), 1:35.

Opponent Affiliation: Colorado Rockies.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 1-0.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Jeff Hoffman (0-0, 4.50) at RHP Chase De Jong (1-0, 1.69).

Hot Rainiers: Dan Vogelbach has reached base via hit or walk in eight straight games, Ben Gamel in seven games, and D.J. Peterson has a six-game on-base streak… reliever Nick Hagadone has retired all seven batters he has faced, striking out six of them.

Look Out For: Outfielder Noel Cuevas is off to a fast start, having already notched three 3-hit games. Catcher Ryan Hanigan has a five-game hitting streak.

Ex-Rainiers and Locals: The Isotopes don’t have any ex-Rainiers, but they are carrying former Mariners outfielder Chris Denorfia.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 1:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. Pacific Northwest broadcast legend Bob Robertson will join me in the booth today. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Reports: